Is ACCA Better than CA (Chartered accountancy)?The real truth

I have typically found these questions from students, who by default are frustrated with CA asking me “Is ACCA Better than CA

Trying to find some hope, somewhere to satisfy their fear, looking for some ray of hope in an answer which they already have fixed it be “Easy”.

I am going to answer this in the most truthfull, blunt and easy understanding way so that you don’t have to do any soul searching henceforth. Lets dive in.

Key Takeaway

  • CA has signining authority, ACCA doesn’t
  • You can work only in MNC based companies with ACCA
  • CA is more difficult than ACCA at any level
  • ACCA is more costly than CA
  • CA will always be in more demand than ACCA
  • CA candidates get lot of exemptions in ACCA,but claiming them can be costly
  • A good combination with CA, Is dip IFRS provided by ACCA

Table of Contents

  1. What is CA?
  2. What is ACCA?
  3. Jobs After ACCA
  4. CA vs ACCA: Which one is better ?
  5. Which is more difficult?- ACCA or CA?
  6. Why CA’s are in Demand and Will be?
  7. How to Do ACCA after CA?
  8. The winner: ACCA or CA?

What is CA?

The most sought after professional qualification in the field of  accounting, auditing, taxation.

The qualification is a standard in India for  accounting careers,  and are the only persons who can actually audit financial statements and have the requisite signing authority for it.

CA qualified professionals can not only make careers in the regular accounting related industry but also in investment banking, financial planning, credit rating careers.

Due to the high competition and very low passing rates, CA qualified candidates tend to get immense opportunities, not only in Indian firms but also MNC’s.

Any one can pursue CA, after 12th or HSC, also there is no specific time line or limit on age to become a CA. Infact there are a lot of candidates who clear CA, very later in their age.

The CA program is authorised by the law, in the chartered accountants Act 1949, also the reason why everyone wants to become a CA.

Average salary of a fresher CA in India is around: INR 6.98 Lacs, which is pretty high compared to other competitive qualifications and can go upto INR 40 Lacs in some cases.

Around 17000 CA’s enter the job market every year which is a fraction, compared to the amount of applicants.

What is ACCA?

ACCA is a global accounting qualification awarded by Association of chartered accountants, U.K.

The qualification has gained prominence and is available in more than 180 countries and was set up initially in 1904.

One must understand that ACCA is not enabled or supported by any act like CA. In fact in the U.K itself the main qualification for accounting is  ICAEW ( Institute of chartered accountants in England and wales). 

Having said that ACCA has more than 4 Lac students globally, focussing on the knowledge of GAAP and IFRS.

Jobs After ACCA

Now it may sound like ACCA is nothing but some educational qualification, but since India has been majorly a large destination for outsourcing of accounting work.

The qualification may make sense for students who wish to forgo the legal benefit of doing CA.

ACCA students can work in

  • Treasury
  • Accounts receivable
  • Budgeting

However the concern is always on the quality of jobs available after taking so much main of clearing the ACCA exams. On the right you can see one of the job postings for freshers, this job profile clearly doesn’t even require you to do ACCA. In fact even as a graduate you could enter this job profile.

The more alarming data is that on the ACCA portal itself, there are only 52 jobs posted for entry level and are basically not high quality jobs expected after completing the qualifications like ACCA.

CA vs ACCA- WHICH IS BETTER?

We compiled the main points of comparison between ACCA & CA, on practical aspects that any qualification should offer.

ComparisonChartered Accountancy (ICAI)ACCA
Practice In IndiaAllowed by LawNot Allowed
DemandVery HighLow
CreditabilityVery HighAverage
Fees1.85 Lacs4.23 Lacs
DifficultyHighEasy
CA vs ACCA

The Truth About Difficulty CA vs ACCA

It may sound like pursuing CA is very difficult, because of a very low pass rate but you should understand that any legitimate qualification which is respected in the industry for employment will have a low pass rate. Lets look at some examples

QualificationPass rate
CA6%
CFA5-6%
CAT ( Tier 1 college)2-3%
Which is the more difficult

The pass rates usually tell us very little about the actual difficulty but the popularity of the qualification or degree.

All three of the above qualification are popular and hence has a huge following or volumes, making the focussed lot lower. Resulting in a low pass rate.

Why CA’s are in Demand and Will be?

Becoming a CA is more than just clearing exams, the students also have to go through the gruelling article ships under a practicing chartered accountant.  

Ask any chartered accountant and he/she will share the hard work both physical as well as mental that the ICAI body makes you go through.

The result is that every candiate that manages to complete the ICAI program or becomes a chartered accountant is a filtered high quality resource.

That is the reason why CA’s are in demand, not just because of the exam or low pass rate.

How to do ACCA after CA?

There would be no real logic of combining ACCA with CA, because by 2022 when you are reading this Ind As has already been implemented, which is a deto of IFRS, so whatever benefit ACCA had over CA, related to the IFRS understanding is over.

However if you still decide to do ACCA after CA, then this is how it will workout

  • You will be entitled to the followign expemptiosn. F1-F9 – All Papers CA Final Student Qualified IPCC benefits + F5 (if cleared AMA), F7 (if cleared FR), F9 (if cleared SFM)
  • You need to submit your qualification documents to ACCA
  • You must also be aware that exemptions comes at a cost and since CA gets a lot of exemptions. This can become a costly affair

Now in case you take my advice, then the combination below makes more sense than ACCA after CA.

A good combination though could be doing the following

  • Dip IFRS as an additional certification
  • CPA after completing CA ( Opens doors abroad )
  • Financial modelling  ( Opens doors for investment banking )
  • CFA ( Opens door towards all finance careers)

You can also read a detailed article on: Certifications along with CA here

The winner: Is ACCA Better than CA?

Well goes without saying, the winner is definitely CA and rightly so. If you are serious about accounting as a career, or want to have a flourishing career in finance and accounting then have the patience and perseverance to clear CA. Alternate easy way outs like ACCA, is really not going to benefit you in the longer run. The future of accounting is going to be more competitive than ever, with a lot of automation and technology use. This alone is going to be difficult for CA, let alone doing a sub standard wanna be qualification like ACCA. With all the due respect for ACCA, we cannot deny the data, that would be the wrong advice just to make things sugary and rosy.  Hope this article helped you, even if it didn’t excite you on a easy alternate to CA.

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ALLEN ARAVINDAN,CFA

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